I’m relatively new and inexperienced when it comes to this whole “you’re in charge of Christmas for your family!” thing. For the past few years, my husband and I have done the holidays on our own in Germany, thousands of miles away from family. Through this experience I have witnessed first hand how easy it is to feel completely overwhelmed by the season— especially when you’re the one responsible for making the holiday magical for all!
I loathe that feeling. The holiday season should be a time of lightness and goodwill, not a time of insane consumerism and stress!
Even so, tasks pile up. There are gifts to buy and wrap, the endless meal planning/ shopping/ cooking/baking, movies to watch, cards to send out, annual traditions to partake in… These activities are meant to be fun, and while they certainly can be, I know that I find myself feeling burdened by a strong desire to create the perfect holiday.
I promised myself that I would be the kind of mom who enjoys this time of year. The kind who isn’t afraid to make a huge mess baking subpar sugar cookies, or makes time for the family to watch their favorite Christmas movies with mugs of hot cocoa in hand, or decides to go on a spontaneous trip to the mountains for some sledding.
The only problem with that vision? It still takes a lot of work. Someone has to make sure that there are ingredients stocked for the cookies and cocoa and scrub the dishes clean afterward.
While my family is still young and growing, I want to set a precedent: if a tradition from the Christmas season doesn’t bring joy or serve as a reminder for the reason we celebrate the holiday, we’ll cut it out.
We can still make our ugly-but-delicious Christmas cookies, but we’ll leave behind Elf on a Shelf and the meticulous arranging of his shenanigans each night (am I the only one totally creeped out by this thing?!) We’ll send out Christmas cards as a way to stay connected with our friends and family, but we’ll keep our gifts simple and affordable. We can see the Nutcracker or go caroling or drive around to look at lights, but we don’t have to partake in every tradition every year.
To keep Christmas focused on Christ, we’d also like to make it a priority to reach out to those in need during the holidays.
Obviously this is important throughout the year and not just during Christmas— it seems like every politician finds themselves in a soup kitchen cashing in their annual charity points on Thanksgiving, never to be seen with a ladle again. But the drive for more— more stuff, more experiences, more food— is so strong this time of year. Serving others is an important reminder of how this is a season where we’re meant to give, not receive.
More importantly, this is a pretty tough time to have unmet needs. Think of the parent who’s struggling to provide even a small gift for their child, or the refugee without a warm coat to keep them from feeling that frigid December bite. What better way to celebrate the Christmas season than to share what we have with those in need?
My strongest hope is that I can set an example for my children of how to celebrate joyfully; I don’t want every December to feel like a long checklist of experiences and tasks. Instead, I long for a season filled with love for one another and thankfulness for the incredible grace we have received.
Is anyone else new to this whole mom thing already feeling a bit burdened by the holidays? What are your secrets for cutting out the stress? Any favorite traditions that bring your family joy, or festivities you plan to cut out? Please share in the comments!